READERS: This column, and all others, appears on social media sites two weeks after publication by Gannett Southeast newspapers. This is a contractual agreement and explains why I often appear to be woefully behind the news cycle. I fully expect Haley to drop out after Super Tuesday, but let’s have a last laugh together, shall we? Thanks for reading and sharing my column.–CR
Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley is using the movie “Grumpy Old Men” in her latest attack ads targeting Donald Trump and Joe Biden.
Nothing like trying to show how hip you are by building your shiny new campaign slogan on a 30-year-old movie, am I right?
This may not be quite the slam-dunk idea Haley, 52, thinks it is. If all you got is “B-b-b-ut I’m way younger!” it may be time to rethink your strategy.
Haley’s proud and somewhat clueless unveiling of her new “Grumpy Old Men” ad campaign isn’t even accurate. You can say a lot about Biden but grumpy? That’s a buncha malarkey right there. The guy’s relentlessly cheerful, upbeat, positive.
For those of you who are too young to know what this movie (and inevitable sequel two years later) is about, let me recap with a little help from imbd.com: “A lifelong feud between two neighbors since childhood only gets worse when a new female neighbor moves across the street.” (There’s a lot of subplots here involving an IRS investigation, ice fishing and pranking via fish left in each other’s cars but, yeah, you get the idea.)
The grumpy neighbors, played by Walter Matthau and Jack Lemmon (ask your parents) end up fighting for the attentions of the bombshell new neighbor (Ann-Margret). Cue hilarity. No, really. It was a good movie, a solid 7 outta 10 as I recall.
If Trump and Biden are the “grumpy old men”—Haley’s advertising team has replaced the heads of Lemmon and Matthau on the original movie poster with the heads of Trump and Biden just for laughs—then does this make Haley the smokin’-hot English professor played by Ann-Margret whom both men want to date?
Ha! Had you going for a second there. As Haley would remind you, she is waaaaaay too young to hang around people that old. Who wants tequila shots? Def not those two old dudes. BOOOOOOOO!!!!!
Haley’s “all ageism all the time” strategy is going to backfire like the ’57 Chevy she’s never heard of if she’s not careful. She’s one step away from greeting her town hall meetings with “Hey Columbia! Thanks for having me! Hey, is it just me or does it smell like old people in here? Hey, wait! Where’s everybody going?”
Look. I get hate mail all the time from Trump supporters and at some point in that mail, most of them reference my age. They don’t just call me old. They attack my gender and my age in a toxic two-fer. I’m called “post-menopausal” on the regular because that swats me as not just a woman but an older woman, which means –in their fevered brains—someone having no value at all.
Nikki, you are just 15 years younger than I. And I’ve seen the comments you get and a disproportionate number of them reference you having PMS and simultaneously, because women’s biology remains mysterious to idiots everywhere, “not handling menopause very well.”
While politicians and newspaper columnists typically have skin made of rhinoceros hide—it’s the only way we survive—it can be depressing to think the best our accusers can come up with is to use our age and our gender to denigrate our ideas.
Just as you are discovering via hate mail, using age as the only arrow in the quiver is lazy and gutless and often irrelevant. Stop talking about how Biden, Trump and every politician over 75 should pass a mental competency test.
I’m not saying it’s a terrible idea. I am saying it can’t be the only one you’ve got. Because there’s an awful lot of smart, compassionate, productive people out there over age 75 that could work circles around someone your age in the morning… and kick your butt at pickleball in the afternoon.